The Harry Potter franchise has been part of our popular culture for decades, but the events of the past few days have cast it into a whole new light. Over the weekend, franchise author J.K. Rowling generated backlash on Twitter, after she made multiple comments that were seen as offensive to the transgender community. Rowling proceeded to further argue her comments in a lengthy post on her blog, which only led to more frustration and ire among Harry Potter fans. With elements of the franchise still ongoing - including a series of Fantastic Beasts prequel films - various companies that are tied to the world of Harry Potter have begun to speak out. The latest among those is Warner Bros., which produced all eight Potter films and has reported plans for five total Fantastic Beasts films.
“The events in the last several weeks have firmed our resolve as a company to confront difficult societal issues,” Warner Bros. said in a statement to Variety. “Warner Bros.’ position on inclusiveness is well established, and fostering a diverse and inclusive culture has never been more important to our company and to our audiences around the world. We deeply value the work of our storytellers who give so much of themselves in sharing their creations with us all. We recognize our responsibility to foster empathy and advocate understanding of all communities and all people, particularly those we work with and those we reach through our content.”
It's unclear exactly what this means for Rowling's involvement in the Potter franchise going forward, especially as Rowling is seemingly set to write or co-write the remaining three Fantastic Beasts sequels. This certainly isn't the first time that Rowling has caused controversy over her comments in recent years, between her previous transphobic social media behavior, and her saying she was "genuinely happy" about Johnny Depp continuing to be the Fantastic Beasts franchise, even as domestic abuse allegations surrounding the actor began to come to light.
At the time of this writing, Rowling's comments have also been disavowed by Harry Potter film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Katie Leung, Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne, as well as Universal Parks, which puts on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks.
"Transgender women are women," Radcliffe's statement reads in part. "Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I. According to The Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity. It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm."
What do you think of Warner Bros.' statement regarding J.K. Rowling's latest controversy? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!